The condition of the newly installed Franklin Square alleyway in Utica, NY is continuing to spiral out of control. Not only are area business owners calling it ugly, they're now concerned for the safety and sanitation of the space as a new problem has plopped down on the green glass surface.

Nancy Ford is a local photographer who works in downtown Utica. Her studio space is located just feet away from the alley that was rehabilitated as part of ARPA funding provided to each of the common council representatives in all districts in the city. ARPA stands for American Rescue Plan Act, which was COVID-19 stimulus money provided to local municipalities.

1st Ward Councilwoman Katie Aiello and former Mayor Robert Palmieri teamed up to "reimagine" the space known as the Franklin Square Alley. The original ARPA allocation, according to the city website, was $200,000 for the project. It ended up costing a total of $400,000. According to the city website, "The mayor agreed to put extra resources into the project because it can be a critical space and distinctive feature in Utica’s Downtown."

Well, the project was completed and while it appeared to be a good premise, with a positive depiction of the city's history many critics felt the project felt short of that goal. Nancy Ford is one of those critics. She took to her private social media page Tuesday to once again raise concerns she had with the condition of the alley and demonstrate just how bad it has become. In her post she was very direct and called out Councilwoman Aiello. She writes,

A lot has happened in Franklin Sq. since I was away. Katie Aiello, I'm so sorry.. but while you have addressed the aesthetics and safety of Franklin Sq. (which frankly I think is bull...), you have not addressed the issue of how to clean the alley, nor has anyone cleaned it. (Notice the ick on the benches.) Now we have human poop, which is most likely done by addicts and probably contains hepatitis or other diseases. How you do you clean that out of the glass and sterilize it? This weekend we will see thousands descend on Utica For the Boilermaker... I don't think I need to finish that sentence or say anymore. And i'm sure I don't need to say that you may want to get over there and clean up the feces so our guests won't see it. And by the way, to anyone who thinks these are just homeless people, please note they are drug addicts. WHat can we do? REMOVE THE BENCHES AND TABLES UNTIL YOU FIGURE OUT A WAY TO KEEP THE ALLEY AND THE PARK SAFE FROM DRUG ADDICTS AND HUMAN WASTE! The photos of the mess in the mural park are from yesterday and the Mayor came and cleaned it up right away. Let's see you have your picnics, movies and have your friends' kids run through there now for social media videos.

Ford took an assortment of photos demonstrating the condition of the alley and surrounding areas within the 1st District, which you can see below.

Beware: Photos Are Graphic and May Be Disturbing to Some

Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
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Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
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Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
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Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
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Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
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Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
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Aiello did respond in the comments of Ford's post claiming that it is the responsibility of the mayor and his office to keep these spaces clean and user friendly for the public. She writes,

I've repeatedly reported these issues too, but I'm not the mayor. In past years when I would submit concerns it was either cleaned up right away or didn't even require anyone to report it. As for this year? I've never seen it this bad. The city absolutely needs to be better maintained. I'm with you.

Utica Mayor Michael Galime's Chief of Staff, Michael Gentile, responded in the comments stating his office has no record of complaint from Katie and we've reached out to her for comment on this issue. Regardless of whose at fault, there is a solution and it has to be reached. Ford repeatedly in the comments of her post has offered an olive branch of discussion and suggested a committee be formed in order to find the proper solution to what appears to be an ongoing problem. We will see what comes of it and continue to follow this story. At the time this story was written, Ford says another council-at-large member worked to get the spaces cleaned up. But, she says it's only a matter of time before things like this continue to happen.

Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
Photo Submitted by Nancy L. Ford
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The important note here is that there is clearly a serious homelessness and drug addiction problem here in our city. Both state and local leaders need to come together and work in unity to get the ship righted or we will all eventually sink.

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